It is a form of manual therapy with a fifty year reputation for producing lasting structural change to a person’s body. Those who experience it typically achieve the following benefits:
Rolfing®Structural Integration aligns and balances the entire body by lengthening and repositioning the fascia (muscles, tendons & ligaments). As the fascia is lengthened, the body works more efficiently. Rolfers™ take advantage of the plasticity of fascia and connective tissue by applying highly specific, appropriate pressure in a systematic way. This results in the elimination or reduction of tissue strain patterns throughout the body.
When tight, short and otherwise restricted fascia is released and lengthened, the body can return to its structurally optimal position.
When a body is aligned and balanced it moves with greater ease and requires less energy to function. Upright posture is effortless and breathing is experienced as fuller and easier. The body becomes more flexible, more coordinated and athletic and other forms of movement improve. Best of all, Rolfing’s effect lasts.
The shifted distribution of body weight often leads to other compensations such as an excessive curve in the lower back. Over time the compensation will cause hips and other joints to go out of alignment. The result is chronic pain, loss of range of motion, poor posture andless flexibilityin any or all of these areas of the body.
After many years working as an analyst in high-tech and investment banking, requiring constant sitting, my neck and back reached the point where they hurt nearly all the time. A massage therapist told me I was developing a noticeable back curve — a stooped posture.
I reached a point where I couldn’t walk without a great deal of pain in my right hip and foot. A friend recommended going to a Rolfer™. At the beginning, I mentioned to him only the back and neck pain — not the foot pain because I assumed Rolfing could not “fix” that. Incredibly the pain in my foot was gone after the 4th session and it never came back. My walk became incredibly effortless for the first time in over a dozen years. My back and neck pain went away as well.
The rationale for this profound change? Rolfers don’t simply ‘work the tissue’, they analyze and work with a body’s structural relationships and patterns, seeking to reduce or eliminate imbalances. In my case, imbalances in my upper body, and a very rotated pelvis resulted in too much pressure on my right foot with every step I took.
I was so impressed with the results I eventually enrolled at the Rolf Institute in Boulder, Colorado (www.rolf.org) and went through the program, graduating as a Certified Rolfer.
The hallmark of Rolfing Structural Integration is a standardized “recipe” known as the Ten-Series, the goal of which is to systematically balance and optimize both the structure (shape) and function (movement) of the entire body over the course of ten Rolfing sessions.
Each session focuses on freeing restrictions or holdings trapped in a particular region of the body. A practitioner also maintains a holistic view of the client’s entire system during each session, thus ensuring the transformational process evolves in a comfortable and harmonious way.
The Ten-Series can be divided into 3 distinct units:
Called the “sleeve” sessions, sessions 1-3 strive to loosen and balance surface layers of connective tissue.
Specifically, the first session is devoted to enhancing the quality of breath with work on the arms, ribcage, and diaphragm. Opening is also started along the upper leg, hamstrings, neck, and spine.
The second session helps give the body a stable foundation by balancing the foot and muscles of the lower leg.
The third session typically involves a “side view” for an understanding of how the head, shoulder girdle, and hips are positionally related to one another when standing under the influence of gravity. Then, the body is addressed within the context of this new vision.
Sessions 4-7 are referred to as “core” sessions and examine terrain found between the bottom of the pelvis and top of the head. The idea of core also includes the deep tissue of the legs for its role in support.
Session four begins this journey; its territory extends from the inside arch of the foot and up the leg, to the bottom of the pelvis.
The fifth session is concerned with balancing surface and deep abdominal muscles to the curve of the back.
Session six seeks to enlist more support and movement from the legs, pelvis, and lower back, while the seventh session turns its sole attention to the neck and head.
“Integration” is emphasized throughout the remaining three sessions, as sessions 8-10 provide an opportunity for the practitioner to blend previously established advancements, and ones yet to be made, into the body in a way that encourages smooth movement and natural coordination.
During sessions eight and nine, the practitioner determines how best to achieve this integration, as the protocol is unique for each individual.
The tenth and final session is also one of integration, but more importantly, serves to inspire a sense of order and balance. Once completed, the wisdom of the Rolfing Ten Series will drive and support the body with health for years to come.